ELD delay, trucker break laws on Congressional docket in coming weeks

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A few prominent trucking policy reforms could be on tap in Congress in the coming weeks and months as lawmakers return to Washington from their annual August recess. Most prominently, lawmakers could take up a bill — or a rider to a must-pass spending bill — to delay the compliance date of the looming electronic logging device mandate.

Here’s a look at the trucking-related bills and provisions potentially upcoming this Congressional session:

ELD mandate delays: A bill was filed in the House in July that would delay the compliance date of U.S. DOT’s ELD mandate to December 2019. The bill has garnered more than 40 co-sponsors in recent weeks, but it’s unclear whether the bill could ultimately prevail in the House or in the Senate. No such bill has yet been filed in the Senate.

However, reports in recent weeks have indicated that Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), who introduced the two-page bill, could try to attach the ELD delay to a larger bill as an amendment. Such a scenario could provide a more direct path for the legislation to be passed and enacted.

Lawmakers have just 12 days to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, the date at which current appropriations expire. The ELD delay language could be attached to the short-term bill or a longer-term bill later. It’s not yet clear how lawmakers will tackle the looming funding deadline, but any efforts in the current 12-day session that starts Sept. 5 will be expedited, and Congressional leaders may choose to forgo policy riders as a means to ensure the bill’s passage.

Included in a separate House bill, the chamber’s legislation to fund the U.S. DOT through the 2018 fiscal year, is a more-limited ELD exemption. It would give livestock haulers an extra year to switch from paper logs to an ELD.

The Senate’s DOT appropriations bill, however, includes no such exemption for livestockers.

Trucker breaks, pay: The House’s 2018 appropriations bill, the legislation that also includes the ELD delay for livestock haulers, would prohibit states from requiring carriers to give drivers paid meal and rest breaks. The provisions are part of an effort by several prominent trucking groups — and many carriers — to rein in states’ authority in regulating drivers’ work schedules.

The language, if passed, blocks states from enacting or enforcing laws that require carriers, as employers, to provide paid meal and rest breaks. The provision also intends to protect carriers from being required to pay drivers for non-driving tasks, following several costly and controversial court rulings in recent years.

Those who oppose the measures say it effectively slams the door on driver pay reform efforts being conducted at the state level.

Read more about the so-called Denham Amendment and the arguments for and against it at this link.

More CSA reforms: The House’s appropriations bill bars the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from finalizing and enacting its Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking until it enacts CSA reforms prescribed by the National Academies of Science earlier this year. FMCSA pulled an SFD rule proposal, issued last January, prior to the introduction of the House bill.

Human trafficking crackdown: A bill introduced in the Senate in July would institute a lifetime trucking ban for those convicted of a human trafficking crime.

The No Human Trafficking on our Roads Act would permanently disqualify human trafficking convicts from holding a CDL.

Another human trafficking bill introduced in the Senate alongside the CDL ban would bolster campaigns aimed to help train drivers how to recognize, report and prevent human trafficking.

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